Controversy in Spain’s Castellón over withdrawal of LGTBI library books

A heated debate is raging in Spain’s Castellón after 32 book titles, affecting 11 libraries, have been temporarily withdrawn after a local court decision.  

Members of the Official College of Librarians and Documentalists of the Valencian Community (COBDCV) are outraged over the withdrawal of books on sexual and gender diversity in schools and libraries of Castellón.

The books were withdrawn as a ‘precaution’ by a court in Castellón. The Asociación Abogados Cristianos (Christian Lawyers Association) had requested the withdrawal of the titles from 11 “educational centres”, after they were delivered by the Minister of Culture last week. 

In a statement the librarians criticized “Censorship in Castellón libraries …  that does not have to be repeated elsewhere”. The group sees the court decision as an affront to democratic freedoms. 

They say they are working to accommodate all groups in society, and that they are working to “guarantee free access to information, which facilitates lifelong learning, a space for dialogue .. and the promotion of critical thinking”. They say “books are one of the most powerful tools in libraries, and the 32 withdrawn books are a step backwards for the democratic freedoms we defend … these books in schools contribute to inclusion and respect for diversity, and they foster tolerance.”

Regional laws recognizing the right to identity and equality of LGTBI people, were approved in 2017 and 2018. This legislation stated that all libraries owned by the Generalitat or municipalities will have to have books relating to sexual, family, gender and sexual development diversity. However critics argue that this is at odds with the Spanish constitution.

The librarians are also supported by the Spanish Federation of Archival, Library, Documentation and Museum Societies (FESABID), of which it is a member. 

Since 2019 the COBDCV have worked closely with a group called Lambda València, an organisation which is dedicated to achieving legal and “real equality” for LGTB+ people. 

According to their web site they exist to “Promote freedom of expression of diverse sexual and gender identities in the face of a heterosexist and patriarchal society”.

The Asociación Abogados Cristianos (Christian Lawyers Association) requested the court ruling, and they argue that the initiative of providing LGBT books is a “violation of several fundamental rights, such as that of parents to decide the education of their children, ideological and religious freedom and the obligation of the government to be objective and neutral”. 

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PHOTO: PSOE

The association criticizes public money being used to provide books, some of which they say have offensive titles such as “Call boys in the Vatican”, “Allah is not great, and Jesus did not love us”, among other, more sexually orientated titles.  

The christian lawyers argue that the books contravene article 27.3 of the Spanish Constitution, which recognizes the right of parents to educate their children according to their own convictions. At time of print the lawyers had almost 12,400 signatures supporting their petition against the books.

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